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Public Service Announcement: World No Tobacco Day 2021

In case you’re new here, I’ll post about holidays and observances that tie in with health, wellness, and self-care, even if they’re more obscure than others. Today’s post is about World No Tobacco Day 2021, and since it fell on a bank holiday (for those of us here in the U.S. like yours truly), I’ve decided to move it to today and consider it belated instead.

After finishing the bulk of this post, I’ve decided that it needs to be a public service announcement.

World No Tobacco Day was on Monday. According to the Wikipedia article, World No Tobacco Day got its’ start in 1987, after the World Health Assembly passed a resolution for April 7th, 1988 to become a “no smoking day.” That same year, the assembly advocated a formal observance to be held May 31st of each year.

As an aside, when we’re talking about tobacco in this context, we’re talking about the commercialized version, not what’s used in many Native Nations in ceremonies, medicinal things, as a means of exchange, and used as an offering to a higher power. The practices among them vary, and many practices are kept within the respective communities for obvious reasons.

This article talks about the ongoing advocacy from tribal leadership to keep tobacco sacred. The commercialized tobacco industry has essentially taken what’s sacred and meaningful to certain ethnic groups and made it profane, to use a term I heard in this one documentary I saw back in college about lamewads appropriating Native American spirituality and profiting off of it.

But that’s something to put on the to-do list for another time. Do you agree or not? Lemme know in the comments.

Back to the post. This year’s theme is “Commit to Quit.” Each year, the World Health Organization changes its’ theme for the observance. This theme is especially fitting, since I’ve heard that quitting something like smoking is incredibly difficult due to nicotine being so addictive.

I’ve also seen people in my life before try to quit many times, and every time after a certain amount of time has passed, they went right back to where they were before. It was like they were in this vicious circle and saw no way out of it.

It’s been years since I last saw them, so I can’t say for sure whether they’ve succeeded in their endeavors. In any case, I hope they’ve been able to find a way to quit that worked for them.

Conversely, a family member of mine is dealing with the health issues that decades of smoking caused. If it didn’t cause it outright, it was a contributing factor, and at the very least, didn’t help it any. They still smoke, and it tears me up seeing them continue to destroy themselves.

That, along with the anti-smoking commercials where the subject smokes through the trach tube or whatever it’s called, speaks to how addictive smoking (and other forms of commercialized tobacco) really is, no matter how often people try to trivialize it or rationalize it.

One of the things that the pandemic brought up for a lot of people was the want to quit smoking or any other form of commercialized tobacco. The WHO started the one year campaign as part of this year’s theme to help 100M people quit, and stay quit.

Another reason is that those who smoke are at an even higher risk of ending up with severe complications if they come down with COVID-19. The risk increases at an alarming rate compared to those who don’t smoke, and to me, that’s terrifying on so many levels.

That leaves one question, where do we go from here? What if you smoke and want to quit? Or know someone who does? This article in the WHO World No Tobacco Day series mentions that support is a huge part of moving toward quitting, and staying quit. While duking it out without support can be done, it’s better to have that support system in place from professionals and those who want to help you succeed in your endeavors.

That same article also goes on to mention that the commercialized tobacco industry has their sneaky and underhanded ways of keeping people in their addictions. One of those is by promoting vaping as a viable alternative to commercialized tobacco.

There’s even a vape shop with multiple locations in my area that has ads on a radio station I used to listen to that even promotes vaping as such, which is disgusting and predatory on so many levels.

In reality, it’s trading one addiction for another. I’ve seen firsthand in someone I knew a few years back who had suffered enormously in terms of their health on account of their smoking, and the last time I saw them, they were vaping almost endlessly, and told people their doctor viewed it as harm reduction.

That article goes on to state that the science supporting any means of “harm reduction” with vaping instead of commercialized tobacco is inconclusive at best. It also talks about the importance of taking the word of the proven evidence from science and the healthcare community, instead of the word of a bunch of marketers promoting products that exist solely to cause harm for the sake of it.

Along with the CDC’s resources, the WHO has also put together a quit toolkit, and there’s also a Trello page with culturally and regionally specific material, with 30 different languages to provide as many people as possible with access to the help they need.

Readers, I’ve said it before, and I’m gonna say it again: if you smoke (or vape) or use any other form of commercialized tobacco, do what you can to quit. The resources linked are a great place to start the process toward better health. This also goes for anyone who finds this by happenstance, and to anyone reading this who wants to quit once and for all: you can do this.

I’m rooting for you.

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